Q: My husband and I have been married for six years now. Our sex life was pretty good for the first year or so, but now it has become less frequent and not as enjoyable. We’re always busy with some project, work, or children. We’re often tired by evening. I want sex more often, but don’t feel comfortable initiating it. We don’t seem to have the kind of warmth and definitely not the excitement we had at the beginning. I don’t know what to do.

A: I am glad that you are asking this question and have decided to start dealing with this concern in your marriage. At the beginning of a relationship, if there is attraction and compatibility, couples will have sex frequently. Some partners are also open to exploring other mutually satisfying ways of enjoying themselves. As that initial sizzle or excitement diminishes, partners find their energy begins to get absorbed into daily life issues. Additionally, the demands of work, home, family, travel, health, and such change the type of relationship the couple has. It becomes more functional and less personal and intimate. This is one of the most difficult patterns to alter.

If you want a sensual and living sex life, you must make a commitment to have it. First, observe if you have any personal resistance in being sexual with your husband. Are you angry, emotionally disconnected, turned off or afraid? Let your husband know that you are missing the sexual connection and are wondering what has made it diminish for you. Ask why he might not be initiating it himself. This will give you some information to begin the exploration. If deeper issues are revealed, it might be difficult to hear or talk about them. Nevertheless, it’s best to be honest, before the partnership deteriorates or one of you has an affair, leading to consequences that are not repairable.

Some couples benefit by deciding on a time when they can be sexually intimate. They wait until the children are asleep, or they even get baby-sitters to take the kids out. They do some romantic or spiritual ritual to enhance the sensuality and bring meaning to the experience. This could include flowers, fragrance, lingerie, music, dinner, wine, conversation, and/or a warm bath. A fulfilling and regular sex life is nourishing to the body and spirit. It is a way of receiving love while experiencing ecstasy and healing in the body as well as the emotions and mind. This happens when couples take time to create communication pathways that lead to conscious creation of sexual experiences.

If sex is practiced in this way, it can both enhance and challenge the intimacy. Open communication can raise vital issues regarding performance, body image, and deep emotional needs that must be addressed so that they do not serve as reasons for couples to either avoid sex or just do it as a functional and quick task. Tremendous growth can occur when partners actually engage in real dialogue about their desires and feelings.

Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in Palo Alto and San Francisco. (650) 325-8393. www.wholenesstherapy.com

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